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Las Vegas firearms distributor gives SHOT Show exotic flavor

One visit to Arsenal at the 2014 SHOT Show can make you feel like 007.

As the distributor for Arsenal firearms, Las Vegas-based K-Var ships product out to retailers across the country from its local distribution center.

“We’re having a lot of fun today,” said Robert Keller, K-Var’s general manager. “We’ve had very strong foot traffic all day long.”

Part of the reason for the high visitation is that the company set up a memorial for Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK-47 assault rifle, who died at 94 in December.

Then there are the weapons.

K-Var was able to import new rifles from Bulgaria, the SLR-104FR and SLR-104-UR chambered for 5.45×39 mm ammo, that haven’t been available in the United States. Keller received the first order of 200 on Dec. 24, and by Dec. 26 he was sold out. He was pre-selling the next shipment for February at SHOT and was estimating another sellout.

“It’s an exciting time for us,” Keller said.

The company also features collectible items, including its briefcase and knife products that have five-shot, .22-caliber revolvers built into the handles of each. Both limited edition items, they’re selling for about $5,000 each. Keller also was showing off a gold edition AK-74 made for Kalashnikov’s 90th birthday.

The 2014 industry-only SHOT Show is spread across 635,000 net square feet at the Sands Expo, up from last year’s 630,000 net square feet. More than 100 of the 1,600 exhibitors are new, and SHOT has more than 400 companies on its wait list. Through today, 61,000 pre-registered attendees are set to walk the floor, up 19 percent from 2013.

SHOT is owned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the $6 billion firearms industry, which supports more than 245,000 jobs.

At W.R. Case &Sons Cutlery Co., the brand was celebrating its 125th anniversary with a collection of knives specifically designed for the occasion. The knives are being preordered through retailers now and are expected to be available in stores by late summer.

Fred Feightner, Case’s consumer marketing and communications manager, said this year’s SHOT Show is full of energy, with a lot of buzz on the floor.

“It’s definitely one of the more lively ones that I’ve seen,” he added. “There are a lot of new consumers jumping into outdoor activities, and that’s creating new consumers that are popping up and a lot of niche industries.”

The company is owned by Zippo Manufacturing Co. Case, based in Bradford, Pa., also has a Harley-Davidson branded line of knives available for 2014.

Elsewhere on the floor, BulletSafe was showing bulletproof vests that can stop rounds up to .44 magnum and weigh 5.2 pounds to 6.4 pounds. The vests come in five sizes for $299 and are ready to be shipped. Glock was exhibiting its single-stack .380 ACP 6+1 called the Model 42. The gun weighs 13.6 ounces and measures 6 inches long with a 3.2-inch barrel. Another new gun is the Ruger LCR featuring an external hammer, the LCRx in .38 special or .38 special+P.

Las Vegas-based Ammo Broom was promoting its device that features a wire cage attached to a long handle designed to pick up ammo shells from the floor without having to bend over.

On the lower level of Sands Expo, Gun Tote’n Mamas, a certified female-owned business, was showing its line of leather conceal-carry handbags. The bags also feature slash resistant straps and ambidextrous access. On Thursday afternoon, the booth was packed.

“We’ve had to overnight more catalogs every day because we’ve tripled the number of catalogs we’ve handed out,” said Jennifer Wilhelm, brand spokeswoman. “It’s been a record-breaking show.”

At Black Hills Ammunition, company co-founder Kristi Hoffman was helping staff the booth on Thursday afternoon.

“It’s been a very good show. The orders that we’re getting this year are solid, versus what happened last year. Everybody was in a panic mode and buying whatever they could get their hands on. This year I’m happy with the traffic and I’m happy with the quality of the orders we’re getting,” she said.

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